Sandara Park (Korean: 박산다라, Hanja: 朴-, born November 12, 1984 in Busan, South Korea) is a Korean actress who stars in movies and television shows in the Philippines. Her unusual three-syllable Korean name, as she has said numerous times in interviews, comes from that of a Korean general, Kim Yushin whose childhood name was Sandara (산다라).
Sandara was born to affluent Korean parents. However, by the time Sandara was 8-years-old, her father's relatives placed him in a financially tight spot which then crippled his business. In hopes of recovering from this business strain, Sandara's father tried his luck in the Philippines, settling in a small apartment in Pasay City and started a business. Sandara and her family remained in her grandmother's house in South Korea for some time until her father finally had enough money to relocate his family to the Philippines.
Initially, no one in their family were fluent in English or Tagalog. Sandara eventually enrolled in voice lessons at the Center for Pop Music in the early 2000s.
The catapult to Philippine showbiz
During one of her school functions, Sandara met Pauleen Luna who was then a talent of ABS-CBN Channel 2. Luna encouraged the shy Sandara to audition for Star Circle Quest, a then-upcoming talent search for ABS-CBN. Park tried her luck and was in the same batch with fellow questors, Hero Angeles and Joseph Bitangcol.
The show's judges called her in and was able to elude elimination several times, paving way for inclusion into the contestant pool's top ten. Being a native Korean, she displayed some trouble with the daily exercises set by the panel of Filipino judges. Though she had some comedic ability, she remained monotonous, dull or lacking in timing. But what she lacked in talent, she made up in charisma. A proof of this was that during the whole run of the show she consistently garnered the Texter's Choice Award, an award given weekly for the contestant who got the most text votes from the viewers. During the last elimination round where the final five contestants were chosen, Sandara made Philippine history by garnering approximately 500,000 text votes, making her the first female to garner that much SMS support. And so she was in until the final night where she was announced runner-up to Hero Angeles. It is estimated that she got at least 2,000,000 accumulated SMS votes from supporters during the entire run of the contest.
Also during the run of the contest she was paired with Hero Angeles but their relationship became increasingly estranged. This later ended up in a real fight that broke up their partnership.
Post SCQ Events: Star Status Established
ABS-CBN showered Park with projects after her Star Circle Quest days. She had six local commercial endorsements for personal care and stationary products. She also received several television show offers. She starred as Sandara Soh in a Star Circle Quest spin-off SCQ Reload, OK Ako (SCQ Reload, I'm OK), and hosted Sandara's Romance, a show featuring Korean dramas and commentary, and had a hosting stint on ASAP Fanatic, a Sunday noontime teen variety show. She also appeared in a local daily primetime superhero soap opera, Krystala, as Kim, who shares similar personalities with her real-life self, but her tight schedule limited her appearances.
In addition, Sandara also embarked on a musical career that eventually led to the release of her self-titled 6-track album which spawned the novelty dance hits "In Or Out", a song that parodied her experiences on Star Circle Quest, and "Walang Sabit", the jingle for Rejoice Shampoo. In proof of Sandara's rapidly rising star status, the album was certified double platinum after 6 months, selling 60,000 copies.
Sandara also appeared in two movies within separate years. First was a storyline in the three-storied movie Bcuz of U where she co-starred with other prominent young local actors. Second was her own movie with her loveteam partner, Hero Angeles, Can This Be Love, which flopped in the local box-office, grossing only P9,310,291.
After a tumultuous partnership with Hero Angeles, Sandara Park opted to pursue college and workshop lessons in Seoul, South Korea. There were rumors and statements in the Korean press that Sandara had tried to become a singer/actress in South Korea, but due to some series of setbacks, it somehow never materialized.
Soon, local media, playing along the controversy, voiced their unhealthy indifference with Angeles and his brother-turned-manager, Henry. This even lead to the Angeles brothers suing writer, columnist, and showbiz aficionado, Cristy Fermin. Nonetheless, Sandara left for Korea still, leaving her troubles unfixed and for the public to decide.
During her stay in Korea, her rumored boyfriend, Joseph Bitangcol, openly admitted their relationship on national TV via the showbiz talk show, The Buzz, shocking Hero-Sandara fans.
The Fad Fades
Six months after she first announced her plans of studying in Korea, Sandara came back to the Philippines to continue her career. ABS-CBN had already released Angeles, and with no one currently paired with her, Joseph Bitangcol took the spot Angeles left.
When Sandara came back in December 2005, she found that her schedule was less tight than before. She had very little TV guestings and only had one regular Sunday show. Crowd reception also seemed cold for her comeback. This is partly because of the success and attention the Pinoy Big Brother Season One housemates were having.
In early March 2006, Sandara voiced out on national television her feelings for the cold reception she has received on her comeback, as well as her envy towards the Pinoy Big Brother housemates, commenting on them as colorful, while she is black and white.
But the real surprise was when she revealed that her father abandoned them and that he has another family which he resides with. Tears flowing, Sandara revealed that her father is a wife-beater and has taken all her savings, leaving them hard-put once again.
About a week after Sandara did the aforementioned interview, Star Cinema studios revealed its intent on casting Sandara and her boyfriend Joseph in D'Lucky Ones, coupled with her latest single, Ang Ganda Ko, the movie's official theme song. The movie opened in theaters on April 16, 2006 and grossed only P11,201,018.
Very recently, Park signed up with Regal Films as an actress for its movies. Dondon Monteverde, Regal's talent manager for Aubrey Miles, is in charge of Park's projects in the film outfit. She will make her "Regal baby debut" in the upcoming Metro Manila Film Festival entry Super Noypi working aside the actors from GMA Network. Park is a member of ABS-CBN's elite circle of homegrown talents, properly named Star Magic.
Despite being a contract star of ABS-CBN, Park appeared as a guest on the December 31, 2006 edition of GMA Network's Mel & Joey. This appearance sparked rumors that Park is exploring the opportunity of transfering to the rival network.
Despite being enormously popular with the teen/young-adult market, critics had panned Park for being "all hype, and no substance."
Enthusiasm for Sandara has died down since her and Hero Angeles's breakup. The latter eventually faded out of memory due to further controversies with ABS-CBN and a couple of reporters. When the HeroSan mania that prevented other loveteams from gaining recognition had fizzled out, so did the career of Sandara whose reel and real partnership with fellow Star Circle Questor Joseph Bitangol could hardly take off as a loveteam.
It is said that Sandara's popularity will further drop with the entry of newer, fresher and younger Pinoy Big Brother Teen celebrities.
In a feature article published by the Philippine Daily Inquirer, Eric S. Caruncho mentioned Sandara Park's song In or Out as an "annoyingly stupid" song .
* SCQ Reload: OK Ako
* ASAP Fanatic
* Sandara's Romance
* Maalaala Mo Kaya (2 episodes)
* Sandara: Ang Pambansang Krung-Krung ng Pilipinas (TV Special)
* Crazy For You
* Star Magic Presents (Bongga episode)
* Star Magic Presents: Abt Ur Luv as Bettina
* Voltes V as Jamie Robinson
* Dalawang Tisoy-an upcoming show which will air this March 2007
* Volta (Cameo)
* Bcuz Of U
* Can This Be Love
* D' Lucky Ones
* Super Noypi
* Sandara (2004) (2x platinum, 60,000++ copies)
* In Or Out
* Walang Sabit
* Smile in you heart
* Ang Ganda Ko
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